Drought news: Denver Water draws down Chatfield Reservoir to help fulfill downstream obligations #COdrought

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From 9News.com (Marty Coniglio):

Rain and average July temperatures have helped bring reservoir levels up, but even more moisture is needed. Stacy Chesney of Denver Water reports that total reservoir storage is 94 percent of the average. But water managers are aiming to decrease water use by 10 percent in an attempt to completely fill as many storage facilities as they can…

Chatfield Reservoir has generated a lot of interest by being so low. Denver water manages 40 Percent of the water in that lake, while the Army Corps of Engineers controls 60 percent of the water to be used exclusively for recreation. This year, senior water rights holders downstream from the Front Range have needed a lot of water and Denver Water has used Chatfield to fulfill that legal obligation.

From the Vail Daily (Scott N. Miller):

It seems like July has been a wet month, but it actually wasn’t much more moist than July 2012, when the region was gripped in drought. Still, everything from streamflows to fire danger is better off this year than last, thanks, still, to a wet April and May…

…this summer is notably better than last summer, despite the fact that June of this year was virtually as dry as June of 2012. The SnoTel snow and rain measurement site on Vail Mountain recorded just 0.1 inch of precipitation in June, just a few drops better than 2012, when that site received no measurable precipitation at all between May 24 and July 1. The same site has recorded just a half-inch more rain in July than it did in 2012.

But that site is up to about 24 inches of precipitation recorded for the current “water year,” which starts in October, a significant improvement over the 20 inches recorded at the site at the end of July 2012.

From the Arizona Daily Sun (Eric Betz):

The Glen Canyon Dam shook to its very foundations as engineers scrambled to find ways to hold back the waters of the fast melting and massive Colorado snowpack. It was July 15, 1983, and there were concerns the dam would not stand the force of the swelling Lake Powell. Below, at Lees Ferry, streamflow gauges recorded more water than at any point since the dam was erected. The dam held, but large-scale reconstruction was required to repair the washed away rebar and concrete. It was 30 years ago this week that Lake Powell reached the highest level in its history. But those days seem hopelessly far off.

This year, the combined storage of Lakes Powell and Mead — and the total system storage of all 10 major reservoirs in the Colorado River Basin — is expected to reach its lowest point since Lake Powell was filled.

Lakes Powell and Mead are projected to hit just 45 percent of their combined capacity this water year, according to the most recent 24-month Bureau of Reclamation study. Hydrologists define a water year as starting on Oct. 1 and ending Sept. 30.

Based on the most recent numbers, the Bureau of Reclamation will release roughly two times more water from Lake Powell than the Colorado River will provide to it for the current period. The projections also indicate that next year Lake Powell will [be operated under the 2007 Shortage Sharing Agreement]…

While the combined storage system will hit the lowest point in history, Lake Powell’s elevation was significantly lower in 2005 following a prolonged period of drought. “We’ve been seeing it for about two months,” said Katrina Grantz, a hydraulic engineer for Glen Canyon Dam. “It’s just barely below what we saw as the combined 2005 period … It’s of concern; I wouldn’t say alarming.”

“Since 2005, we’ve recovered quite a bit, but we’ve had two back-to-back dry years,” she added.

From The Colorado Springs Gazette (Jesse Byrnes):

Colorado Springs residents and businesses used 600 million gallons of water July 22-28, compared to 963 million gallons for the same week last year. It was also 6 degrees cooler and the city got .08 inches more rain for the same time frame.

The lowest water consumption point of the summer came a week earlier, July 15-21, when households used only 556 million gallons of water after getting drowned in more than 2 inches of rain. Until then, residents were using about 600-700 million gallons of water per week.

Colorado Springs has gotten 4.51 inches of rain for July, 1.89 inches above normal for the month, according to the National Weather Service in Pueblo…

The city needs to save as much as possible during summer months – when people typically use more water – because it has collected as much from snow runoff as it can expect to see this year, city officials say. As of July 28, Colorado Springs was at 57.1 percent in its water system storage compared to 61.4 percent at the same time last year. The normal system storage level is 84.8 percent.

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